It's been a year of ups and downs for the channel as a flurry of industry consolidation and technology rollouts took centre stage.
In picking one of the most significant announcements for the channel this year, it would have to be Dell's back flip on indirect sales. The vendor, which has always prided itself on its direct selling strategy, was forced to reconsider this model after declining profits and losing its top PC pole position to HP. Whether you are signing up or not, Dell's plans to take the channel by the hand will have a wide-reaching impact next year.
2007 also saw Commander's market value chopped to pieces as it suffered one poor financial result after another. The beleaguered integrator has now witnessed its first management casualty with the departure of managing director, Adrian Coote. With a sale ruled out by its board, its new chief, Amanda Lacaze, will have her hands full next year overcoming mounting debt and sagging shareholder confidence.
Another familiar channel face, Cellnet, also battled through 2007 to keep its head above water. This year saw no less than three top dogs at the distributor including the latest, founder and former managing director, Stephen Harrison. Several big vendors exited its warehouse including HP, Apple and Kyocera. With a vendor and business review now underway, Harrison is hoping to restore customer confidence.
Other distributors have kept busy expanding into complementary technology areas to improve their role as services and solutions aggregators. After rolling out its Solutions Group last year, Ingram Micro launched a new point-of-sale division, while Firewall Systems re-engineered its business model and introduced networking, storage and training distribution subsidiaries. These now sit under the Distribution Central masthead.
Meanwhile, mergers and acquisitions dominated the integration and reseller tier. One of the biggest is the marriage of ComputerCorp and Leading Solutions, but we've also seen the return of Kaz Group founder, Peter Kazacos, buying up several smaller resellers to become a managed services provider for SMBs. Vendors have had their share of the limelight too: as Samsung pulled out of the local notebook market, Asus emerged as a stronger contender, snatching up marketshare. This month's launch of its low-cost mobile machine, the Eee PC, is also generating a buzz in the retail and education space. It will be interesting to see whether it creates a new mobile computing category or remains a niche device.
Windows Vista also launched with much fanfare in February, but the industry is claiming business customers are still shying away. At an applications level, the rise of Web 2.0 in the corporate community, along with the push for software-as-a-service, has further impacted the software landscape. Unified communications is also propelling application development forward.
These changes have sent the software juggernauts into a hive of acquisitions activity. This year of realignment saw Cisco picked up several applications companies, SAP buy Business Objects, IBM purchase Cognos, and Oracle snare BEA Systems and Hyperion. Google has also risen as a significant applications player. And who could forget the impact virtualisation is having on almost every aspect of IT?
I'm sure there will be plenty more consolidation to keep us all busy next year.
In the meantime, ARN wishes you all the best over the holiday season.